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It’s all about the relationship: cognitively intact mother–daughter care dyads in hospice at home

Purpose of the Study: Adult daughters providing care to aging, ill mothers comprise the most prevalent caregiving dyad. Little is known, however, regarding relationship quality and its impact on care in these dyads, particularly in the context of cognitively intact patients at end of life in hospice. This interpretive descriptive work privileges voices of terminally ill mothers and care-partnering daughters in the home hospice context. Specific aims were to describe and interpret how mothers and daughters: (a) perceive relationship quality and (b) perceive how relationships have developed over time through health, chronic illness, and hospice. Design and Methods: Semi-structured interviews were used to explore interdependent perceptions of relationship quality in 10 terminally-ill mother–adult daughter care dyads. A novel method of qualitative dyadic analysis was developed to analyse dyads in close parallel at both individual/descriptive and dyadic/interpretive levels, staying true to qualitative rigor. Results: A relationship quality spectrum emerged, from Close Friendship to Doing My Duty dyads. Women in Close Friendships revealed concordant narratives and emotionally satisfying relationships; women in neutral or troubled relationships revealed discordant relational stories. In these latter dyads, mothers reported more positive narratives; daughters spoke of relational problems. Implications: This work suggests deeper exploration of mother–daughter dyads within the hospice context and interventions at both individual and dyadic levels to serve relational needs of the dying and their families. The qualitative dyadic approach also offers utility for relational investigations of any dyad.

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Oxford university press
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